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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Celestial Weasel's LiveJournal:

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    Saturday, May 9th, 2015
    8:46 pm
    The people of Abingdon didn't vote for fear
    Or more accurately, Fear, who came 5th in his ward and so wasn't elected. The town council is now 10 Tory, 8 Lib-Dems, 1 Independent (left Lib-Dems over behaviour in government).
    So the red dog-poo bins will be conntracted out by Tories, like the green dog-poo bins.

    In other news
    a) Some of you may not be aware of 'comment is weird' http://commentisweird.tumblr.com/
    b) At long last, Ronnie Hazlehurst's requiem has surfaced on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13c4eJZtWiY
    c) Too soon? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVwdKfLOa5o
    Friday, May 8th, 2015
    11:19 pm
    Did you have pants on for Balls?
    So, things are getting, er, tetchy on Facebook amongst my friends there from the running club (the main factions are 'The NHS will fall to bits' vs 'The NHS would have fallen to bits anyway', I simplify slightly). Meanwhile here I am on the only true social network. I have other things to do but I have a habit of thinking 'I have thing x to do so I won't do y' and then not doing x, so here I am, anyway.
    8 LibDem MPs. Well, between 1951 and 1970 there were 6 Liberal MPs apart from a couple of blips with slightly more -for example in 1970 there were two in Devon and Cornwall and 4 in Scotland. Someone claims that now is the first time since 1679 with no Liberal / Lib-Dem / Whig MP in the West country. Will people have the appetite for going back to that size of party, back to the old days of the 'they can meet in a taxi', albeit one of those large minibus taxis? Will people think there is any point? Now of course we test the 'the Lib-Dems were ameliorating the Tories' hypothesis to destruction.
    Obviously there are local councillors, we have 1 Tory, 1 Lib-Dem district councillor here - essentially I assume people vote for 1 Lib-Dem and then 1 Labour or 1 Green for the 2 seats (the Lib-Dem was 13 votes ahead of the 2nd Tory) - with the town council counted tomorrow. Before the last election before this one the town council was all Lib-Dem, then last time it was 10 Tory, 9 Lib-Dem and 1 Labour, but it ended up back under Lib-Dem control after by-elections, defections etc. The district council is now 29 Tory, 9 Lib-Dem.. It was Tory anyway, though.
    Have I mentioned before that the town council and district council both run dog poo bins, red for the town council, green for the district.
    Anyway, yesterday I did two hours of telling for the Lib-Dems, obviously in OW&A there are only Tory and Lib-Dem tellers. Previously I have typed the numbers in, but maybe they don't need that any more. A young man with stretched ear lobes (gauged? what's the term?) and young person style low slung jeans cycled up, took photos of the sheet of numbers then cycled off. Maybe they are OCRd, maybe the are outsourced to India. Probably not. I was surprised, but probably shouldn't have been, how many people I knew I saw - 2 voting, one for the pre-school group displaced from the hall by the election onto the nearby grass as a 'teddy-bears' picnic', one voting and for the pre-school group, and one for Slimming World in the other hall. Apart from this there were also 2 trips to Oxford to take Benny to the vet to have an op to deal with the hole he had managed to get in his foot by standing on something and to get him back and a meeting at work.

    Meanwhile, the Green Party. The only party, I suspect, to have policy on Sussex Stoolball (CMS880 http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/culture,-media-and-sports.html ). I was amused by the butthurt at peopl e pointing out the policy on their website about copyright (14 years), but I kind of know how it got there - there is a long document called 'Manifesto for a Sustainable Society' which gets gradually revised over the years by working parties i.e. obsessives and cranks (*). I think it was originally based on something in The Ecologist years ago. The Ecologist famously being the magazine that had the lead article on 'why vibrators are teh evil' for approximately the reasons you would guess, fast food sex, consumer society, petrochemicals, better to use artisinal glass dildos blah blah http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/268921/love_batteries_not_included.html
    The problem is of course that if you are The Green Party you have to have policies which simultaneously reflect what you could do with a few local councillors, what you could do as part of a ruling coalition on a local council, what you might do with one or two MPs in a hung parliament, what you would do if Britain had gone for green-ness in a single country and what you could do in the glorious day of a transformed world. Inevitable therfore, the policies are bound to look a bit odd. This does not mean I wasn't amused, particularly at the irony of  people taking the sort of views of policies 'if you don't like it fix it' that they would decry when people say it of open source software.

    (*) As I'm sure I have said before, I went to the party conference once many decades ago, for want of a better break-out group to go to I went to the one on newspapers. The bloke charing it began with 'first of all - should there be newspapers?'. That one may have solved itself of course.
    Saturday, March 14th, 2015
    12:47 pm
    Albatross of leaden metaphor news
    I am surprised more has not been made of this
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2015/newsspec_7937/content/english/index.html?v=0.2.27

    The most microchipped dog by council area (county / unitary authority?). Obviously this is
    a) someone's press release to get publicity
    b) subject to the number of dogs microchipped
    c) first dog past the post
    d) subject to anomalies i.e. it is believed that greyhounds being number 1 in Halifax is due to there being a large greyhound and lurcher rescue place there.

    But as a metaphor 'Labrador Britain' vs 'Staffie Britain' takes some beating (plus greyhounds as above, Border Collies in, er, the border and Jack Russells in the Celtic fringe)
    Friday, March 13th, 2015
    11:16 pm
    Misc
    Funnily enough I had mentioned Terry Pratchett yesterday before the news of his death - I quoted Ansible on the subject of the BBC to Dr Cray (whom God preserve) and someone else  http://news.ansible.uk/a264.html

    'Something for the Very Strange department; the BBC contacted us about doing a prime time series based on the Guards books. Things seemed to go well, although it appeared to me that up to that point only one person involved had read a Discworld book. Then we gradually moved into Fairy Land.... What caused me to crack was the question of the Bible. I am not going to let something like this happen without some input, if only to stop Nobby Nobbs becoming female. Much discussion ensued, and my movie agent suggested that the BBC and us create the Guards Bible – these style guides are quite common in the business. / It looked, therefore, like it would be all systems go until the BBC came back and said that while they would be happy to collaborate on the Bible, they would because of their charter have to have the final say, which means in effect: "everything will be set in stone, but we are allowed to have a sledgehammer." So the BBC is not getting Guards! Guards!. As my movie agent (who has dealt with some of the most voracious companies in the States) said to me, "How does anyone ever deal with the BBC?"'

    This was in the context of the BBC's new 'Not a Rasberry Pi, not an Arduino' project the Micro Bits
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31834927
    I am amused that the BBC story describes this as giving children 'mini-computers'. PDP-11's all round, hic. Or maybe the plan IS to give every year 7 child a PDP-11/70.
    Clearly this is very much an 'announcement' in the sense that nothing firm has been announced, ARM has more detail about it here
    http://community.arm.com/groups/internet-of-things/blog/2015/03/12/arm-and-the-bbc-collaborate-on-a-new-initiative
    I have to say that I cannot really see either that the ability to make 25 LEDs flash on and off from a Python / C++ program will excite / inspire children. But then I am not a parent, a child or an educator.

    I picked up the 2 early Pratchett SF novels before her was famous, they are amongst his best stuff. I have to say I sort of got bored with Discworld at about Pyramids though I think I have read Small Gods and one other maybe. Good Omens was certainly better than anything else by Pratchett or Gaiman, a true classic.

    Meanwhile, did you know you can play Snake on the Kings Cross fountains? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hZgaV35D3M
    Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
    9:35 pm
    Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
    9:29 pm
    The East is red

    http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/watch-deeply-deeply-patriotic-song-featuring-chinas-president-debuts-during-new-year-gala

    "..The annual event, which organizers claim reaches 90 percent of Chinese families and more than 700 million viewers, is a collection of performances and skits that are tightly choreographed and vetted by the Communist Party. Toward the end of this year’s broadcast on February 18, singers Mo Hualun and Lu Wei joined a university choir to sing a new song entitled “Give My Heart to You” in an effusively patriotic tone that’s long been typical of the gala. Less typical, however, is what happened a minute into the performance when a waving Chinese flag in the background video gave way to triumphant imagery of the president.

    The remainder of the performance is devoted exclusively to video of Xi that includes him meeting ecstatic youth, glad-handing with rural residents, and eating with soldiers in a frigidly cold outpost. While similar flattering imagery of top leaders has long been a mainstay of CCTV news broadcasts, it's rare that this imagery is brought together in such a musical montage at a high-profile event like the New Year's gala. The song itself appears directed at the Chinese “motherland” as a whole, though the way Xi is presented center stage leaves it ambiguous who exactly the source of love is and who it is directed at."

    If you get CCTV-9 (the English CCTV channel) the 'spring festival' gala tends to be the headline - CCTV is as fond of bigging itself up as the BBC

    Friday, February 13th, 2015
    11:41 pm
    Monday, February 9th, 2015
    11:12 pm
    Paper moon
    As is often the case with these polls, when one sees the results one thinks of more questions. Mr zengineer may be disappointed that I don't have a profound point. I was just surprised that, once again, people at work looked at me as though I were mad when I said something about A[n] paper sizes.
    So, anyway...
    a) As presumably 5 of you know, the area of an A0 sheet of paper is a square metre. Size(A(n+1)) = 1/2 Size(A(n)). Therefore the size of an A4 sheet of paper is 1/16 of a square metre.
    b) As mentioned in comments, the A series of paper sizes has the property that each size is got by halving the previous size along its long size. Therefore the ratio of the long side to the short side is sqrt(2) to 1.
    c) Putting these facts together (viz the ratio and the fact that a sheet of A0 paper is a square metre) yields the sides of a sheet of A0 paper being 2^1/4 metres by 2^-1/4 metres (i.e. the square root of the square root of 2). Dividing these by 4 yields the size of an A4 sheet of paper.
    Friday, February 6th, 2015
    10:03 pm
    Paper view
    Poll #1998265 Paper View

    I know the area of a piece of A4 paper

    Yes
    6(35.3%)
    No
    11(64.7%)

    I believe this to be reasonably common knowledge

    Yes
    5(29.4%)
    No
    12(70.6%)

    Either I know the dimensions of an A4 sheet of paper (to, say, mm precision) off by heart or I could calculate it with a scientific calculator

    I could calculate it
    3(16.7%)
    I know it off by heart
    7(38.9%)
    No
    8(44.4%)

    I believe this to be reasonably common knowledge

    Yes
    6(33.3%)
    No
    12(66.7%)
    12:04 am
    #bisexualbroadstairs
    Was temped to buy a paper today to read about the Rotherham stuff but got the feeling that the news can be divided pretty much into a Venn diagram with the two circles being 'incomprehensible' and 'bullshit', with the overlap being very large, so couldn't quite bring myself to.
    As far as Rotherham goes, I refer you to this fine post http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/chicken.html
    "The actual story depicted in the recent report, of course, is that local police basically regarded victims of crime as too scummy to protect, as evidenced by their habit of investigating these offences only just far enough to justify not investigating them.  This tells us all kinds of terrible things about how the police investigate sex crimes; who has access to justice and how the UK treats its poorest citizens." (the 'recent report' here is not yesterday's report).

    Most of the stuff about #gaymargate and other parts of the never-ending geek culture wars I also find incomprehensible, is there a limitless reserve of feminist bloggers who have dated low-life douche-bros? And why is @nero the #gaymargater poster boy? It took me a while to remember where I had read about him before, it was here http://pme2013.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-art-of-self-loathing.html Oh dearie, dearie me. Read the comments. Why does the UK media attract these low-level crooks and fantasists?
    Thursday, January 29th, 2015
    11:16 pm
    Red Octopus
    There are a number of questions that tend to occur to me whilst driving but I never remember when I am near something I can search on. One of those questions, which I eventually remembered, was 'what was Jefferson Starship's hit?'. As opposed, obviously, to Jefferson Airplane's or Starship's.
    There is some rather tortuous bit of chart trivia involving Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship / Starship but I can't find out what it is - something on the lines of 'longest time between hits defined in some bizarre fashion'.
    Anyway, the answer to the question is that Red Octopus got to number 3 in the U.S. album chart. I had / have a cassette of it somewhere.
    The tracks I remember are Miracles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKBttQmhDBw and Fast Buck Freddie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chOT-4r-twg
    'Jane' was apparently a single hit, from an album I don't have, in fact I don't remember hearing the track before.

    Of course, 'Blows against the empire', which I have on CD somewhere was nominated for a Hugo award
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaHNAVgVkDY

    "Hydroponic gardens and forests
    Glistening with lakes in the Jupiter starlite
    Room for babies and byzantine dancing astronauts of renown
    The magician and the pantechnicon
    Take along the farmer and the physician"
    Sunday, January 11th, 2015
    6:32 pm
    Cynicism

    I mentioned in passing to Mr Snips (whom God preserve) that I wondered whether it would be nice to be less cynical.
    By way of calibration, consider the terms and conditions and FAQ for the 'thing' (I will say no more) that the Barclays in Little Trendy Street has been turned into.
    https://www.3space.org/locations/hatch

    Observe the T&Cs
    https://www.3space.org/pages/3space-t-cs

    And the FAQ
    https://www.3space.org/pages/faqs

    i.e. to use our coworking space, with gasp a 3D printer (oh fuck off) and a sewing machine (oh fuck off) you need to be some sort of business and have liability insurance, but it's not somewhere you can base your business in any meaningful sense. Hmm. Compares well with Costa and its wifi.

    Now, if I were cynical, I would suggest that this reads like some rather starchy business person has had a hackspace briefly explained to them and then produced their own version.
    Oxford may appear to be home for Jonty Double-Barrelled and his friends engaging in doomed, futile, hateful wank with a vaguely social /environmental gloss [citation needed, or rather citation can't be arsed to Google and compile a list] but even so I can't see this one flying.

    Monday, January 5th, 2015
    10:40 pm
    They came for Dani Behr, I said she's over there, behind the wardrobe

    I usually avoid thinking about / commenting on Internet bollocks (TM) but I really don't understand the sea lion cartoon  / sea lioning at all http://wondermark.com/1k62/
     Or rather, I see what it is supposed to mean but it seems vacuous in exactly the same way as the Pastor Niemöller quote...
    They came for the serial killers, but I did not speak up because I was not a serial killer
    Then they came for the badger stranglers, but I did not speak up because I was not a badger strangler
    etc.
    (see also Half Man Half Biscuit, obviously https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJYlmEZ399I )


    Why not, for example, take the sea lion as representing those upperty women / minorities etc. intruding on a conversation rightly being left to the middle aged white guys? I know it's not supposed to mean that, it represents the 'people whose views are anathema to all right thinking people like us'.

    Big sigh.

    Thursday, January 1st, 2015
    12:11 am
    Continued

    Another book about machine learning, in Python this time, which was more a manual of using a particular bit of software rather than actually explaining very much, didn't get very far with it.
    Constellation Games - Leonard Richardson. This, as you know professor, is a novel about alien contact with Earth through the eyes of a game developer / reviewer. The protagonist gets access to millions (?) of years of video games from various civilisations - the alien ship has representatives of most species found in the manner of Anathem - the schtick here is that most of the civilisations they encounter are dead. It is obvious from early on in the novel that there wasn't going to be a very profound ending and indeed there isn't. I liked it though. Smartphones and beyond: Lessons from the remarkable rise and fall of Symbian - David Wood. Liked this, reviewed it at the time.
    Undercover Mormon: A Spy in the House of the Gods - Th. Metzger. Intended to be funny but wasn't particularly. I was hoping he would get further into Mormanism than he did.
    The Accident - Chris Pavone. This is sort of a sequel to The Expat, except that the protagonist of The Expat turns out to be a minor character and ***SPOILER*** her boss turns out to be a bad guy. I remember essentially nothing about this other than I didn't think it was nearly as good as The Expats.
    Raspberry Pi RISC OS System Programming Revealed Part 1- Bruce Smith. Demonstrates clearly why we are not all using RISC-OS, and that I have no desire to run it on a Raspberry Pi.
    The Violent Century - Lavie Tidhar. A parallel world in which superheroes are created by an 'event', set in WW2. Very good but very grim, rather stalled on this.
    The Last Day of Christmas: The Fall of Jack Parlabane (short story)- Chris Brookmyre. Completely without merit. Presumably a prequel to a forthcoming novel. The Parlabane books were black comedies whereas this was a tedious angry rant. Slightly odd as the Jasmire Sharp novels have been a return to his early form.
    The Peripheral - Bill Gibson - Drones and trailer trash. We have been here before. Stalled on this too.
    Being for the benefit of Mr Kite - Douglas Lindsay. Now, this was bizarre. This was recommended by Amazon so I bought it, having forgotten that I bought one of his earlier books via an Amazon recommendation and absolutely hated it. A time travel fantasy more than SF involving someone wishing himself out of a crashing plane. Rather good actually though somewhat inconsequential and no attempt to explain the paradox.
    Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch. Come on someone, give the man a TV series.




    Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
    11:45 pm
    Misc

    Well, clearly at the beginning of the year we would have expected to end the year with Alex and Harvey, instead we have Benny, who is lovely but has an enormous prey drive. You may recall me questioning the utility of Alex's habit of barking at everything furry that he saw. This is obviously pack behaviour to alert the park leader who then has a good think about it. That would be Benny. His eyesight is not as good as Alex's, though he did see a deer on the Ridgeway which was quite well hidden. Then again, on our previous trip he got quite excited by a stick with a bit of paper at the top. The sheer number of squirrels in the University Parks did rather boggle his mind, though less so than it would have the others. The LMH canteen is obviously not serving enough 'mixed grill' (i.e. squirrel).
    We collected Harvey's ashes today, they are on the top of the Ikea tall and thin thing (videocassette storage?) next to Alex's.

    Books, via Amazon...
    Something about Machine Learning in R, didn't read very much as R seemed too pointless to me. We have good languages now, why bother with shit ones?
    Equoid by Charles Stoss. Good.
    Guide to property investment in France for senior niece - she had half her Mum's estate i.e. half a large terraced house in Leicester to invest. She bought a flat in Leicester to rent out, and house shares in London where her job is or more accurately was as it was maternity cover and has now finished.
    Guide books to Chicago and Seoul - we stayed in the UK. Obviously given Harvey, this was a Good Thing (TM)
    The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith i.e. J. K. Rowling. I quite like these. Obviously, as per the thing I keep saying, all British detective novels are written with at least 1 eye on TV adaptation. About 1.8 eyes in this case - will they find an actor with a leg amputated? I see the BBC has bought it. Some moderately amusing snark about 'indie authors' and of course tabloid newspapers.
    The Expats - Chris Pavone - a thriller set amongst American ex-pats in Luxemborg. This was recommended by someone plausible. Semi-OK but had one twist too many, the final twist not really working.
    Acts and Omissions - Catherine Fox - Dr. Fox blogged this novel last year, bought it because it was cheap on Kindle and to see the extent to which she edited it (which I haven't really done). I enjoyed her original cassock rippers but there is a slight hint of her writing fan-fic of her own characters by this stage.
    Bitter Experience Has Taught Me - Nick Lezard. A compilation of his New Statesman columns. Slightly one note by the end. I wonder how much the tales are exaggerated. I was amused to see that he comments on one of his friends lusting after the BBC Alba weather presenter, which would be very understandable if I objectified young women, perish the thought.




    Friday, December 26th, 2014
    10:12 pm
    Harvey - bad news
    Well, for those who haven't seen this via t__m__i on Facebook, Harvey didn't make it. We took him to Port Meadow but he wasn't really interested in a walk, or anything. We arranged an emergency vet appointment, the vet did some blood tests (they have some sort of machine now that can do some tests) and said that his liver reading was the worst she had seen (she is quite young). It was a 'well we can do some stuff which won't work' kind of thing, so we decided it was best to let him go. As I may have said he had his annual check-up a not that long ago, he had certainly lost weight by that point.
    So we have lost both Harvey and Alex in a year.
    Hey ho.
    Thursday, December 25th, 2014
    11:27 pm
    Granny's on the roof and she won't come down
    Hmm. Harvey is not a well greyhound. He is slightly over 11 years old but has looked old beyond his years for two or three years. Now he is quite skinny and reluctant to eat. Also he has boaked up water a couple of times over the last few days. He had his check up a few weeks ago, the vet suggested fish so we have got him fish a few times along with his cans of dog food rather than the usual freeze-dried sheep. I think we will try a trip to the vet but I have a pretty good idea what they will say.
    Saturday, December 20th, 2014
    11:58 pm
    Avon
    As pointed out on Twitter by abigailb Google Maps seems to have decided a tiny hamlet (which does appear on OpenStreetMap) called Avon is as important as Bath and Bristol
    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.4903904,-2.060668,8z

    Meanwhile, did you know that the 'Western Riverside Waste Authority' was a thing? http://www.wrwa.gov.uk/ The existence of waste authorities was something that passed me by
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_disposal_authorities_in_London

    Meanwhile, if we do end up with a 'combined authority' for Oxfordshire, Bucks and Northamptonshire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combined_authority should we start referring to 'the tri-county area'?

    What would be the sodding point of an integrated transport authority and economic prosperity board for that particular area (even if it ends up including Milton Keynes which it currently wouldn't as that's a unitary authority)?

    Gah.
    Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
    11:33 pm
    Zombie roads
    Notwithstanding
    a) Christian Wolmar saying that this road budget is a rehash of an announcement last year, with actually less money in real terms, and won't include much actual new road building http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/autumn-statement-2014-road-ruin-david-camerons-15bn-road-building-programme-1477733
    b) any environmental concerns
    I don't really see how anyone can think that road building in the South East (e.g., the part of the UK corresponding broadly with the old Network South-East area) will actually work. By and large everything is at capacity and expanding things will just move the bottlenecks elsewhere, and it is not as though you will be able to get into the towns and cities when you get there. And where there are major bottlenecks that might usefully be alleviated, the reason they weren't before is that they were really unpopular (that is to say unpopular amongst the 'right people' i.e. not just the greens / hippies). See in particular the suggestions for somehow bypassing the A34 past Oxford.
    Saturday, November 29th, 2014
    8:21 pm
    More Optigan
    This track, Chocolate Cake by Crowded House has the 'Singing Rhythm' sampled at about 50 seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMgU5B2TZIA
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